6 Docs To Watch (On HBO)
Last year, I suggested six documentaries that were available on Netflix that I think are worth your time. Now it's time to turn to HBO and suggest some of the great docs they currently have streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
With all the success behind Netflix's "Making A Murderer" documentary series, it was very surprising to me that HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst" never caught as much wind. This documentary is a four-part series that documents all the crimes millionaire Robert Durst has been accused of and also goes as far as interviewing him about it all. Without spoiling too much for you, the conclusion to this documentary is the most terrifying thing I have seen in the past five years and had real-life consequences to the life of Robert Durst. If you like crime stories, this documentary is better than any movie you could possibly name.
Bonus Recommendation: from the same director of "The Jinx," Alex Gibney, came "Going Clear," which explores the religion of scientology and is absolutely fascinating (and also scary).
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds
In 2016, we lost Carrie Fisher (who was a personal hero of mine) and her mother, the legendary actress Debbie Reynolds. "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds" was a documentary they had done together way before there was any indication we'd lose them both, and it was supposed to come out a lot later in 2017. After their sudden deaths, however, it was decided to honor their legacies by releasing this doc in early 2017. It is a fascinating look at their separate lives as actresses and also their relationship as mother and daughter. The documentary is gut-wrenching for fans, but it is still a delightful experience that makes us miss them even more.
Bonus Recommendation: yet another mother-child documentary came out just a little before "Bright Lights." It was "Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper," which was essentially a conversation between the journalist and his incredibly wise mother about her life and his childhood.
In Vogue: The Editor's Eye
I believe that the making of "In Vogue: The Editor's Eye" was a very calculated decision from Anna Wintour that felt necessary in order for her to take control of Vogue's image. Both the 2006 "The Devil Wears Prada" film and the 2009 "The September Issue" documentary had painted a very cruel picture of Anna and how the magazine worked. "In Vogue" had lots of Anna, but it was more about the editors around her and it romanticized their creative processes in a way that justifies the brashness that comes with making such big decisions. It is an extraordinary point-of-view of the daily activities at Vogue, especially if you also watched "The September Issue" before.
Bonus Recommendation: also in the fashion sphere, "About Face: Supermodels Then and Now" is a little documentary that explored a huge stigma in the modeling world: aging. It's definitely worth watching.
Becoming Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is a name I have always been at least slightly aware of, but I had never been exposed to the actual person that many times. "Becoming Warren Buffett" is a great chance to getting to know the self-made billionaire and learning from his humility, focus, and advices. It is essentially a documentary about business, but it is not necessarily constrained within teaching the viewer about something in particular. I really loved this doc because Warren Buffett seemed very open to talking about everything, and he's a very inspiring individual.
Bonus Recommendation: another personal documentary about a fascinating man is "David McCullough: Painting with Words," which was produced by actor Tom Hanks and follows author David McCullough in a journey of self-exploration.
The Latin Explosion: A New America
This is another one of those documentaries that I expected to have gotten more hype once they came out, but didn't seem to go that far. As a Latino, "The Latin Explosion: A New America" was not only exciting, but incredibly important for me to watch. It details the history of Latin immigration to the United States and how it ties up to music. And everybody's in it! Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Pitbull, Shakira, and a bunch of others. It is a fun and educational assessment of how Latinos immigrated and how the Latin sound has evolved.
Bonus Recommendation: a very similar, yet very different documentary is "The Latino List." While it is also about Latin people and their journeys, it is less about the collective evolution of that group and more about personal, focused, one-on-one interviews with prominent Latin figures.
Beware The Slenderman
I knew very vaguely of this character called Slenderman and how he looked, but I had no idea what he was about or what media property the character had come out of. "Beware The Slenderman" explores just how this horror figure came to existence and the real life consequences that he had in our world. The documentary is terrifying, if not for being scared of the character himself, but for making us realize what the Internet can create and cultivate.
Bonus Recommendation: speaking of XXI Century crimes, "Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop" is another example of some of the new kinds of criminal activities we have to face in the world. Scary, to say the least!